Why do we worry in the first place?
Worrying is a natural part of the human condition; we all experience it and the accompanying anxiety that goes along with it. When we worry about something it’s because we perceive it as a threat to our existence and causes us to be hyperaware of the circumstance prompting us to focus intently on it in order to prepare to protect ourselves from that threat. So worry, in moderately small amounts, is actually beneficial to our evolutionary survival. However, that being said, while these feelings are natural they should not overrule your life and disrupt your sleep.
Why do we worry more at night?
Night-time is usually a time where we begin to wind down, we slow and halt our busy activities and hectic mindsets in preparation for sleep. However, this slowing down gives our brain the perfect opportunity to throw up all the worrying thoughts that we haven’t had time to process throughout the day. This means that, rather than having a nice undisrupted sleep, we are left tossing and turning because all of the worries that we have pushed down throughout the day have bubbled up to the surface.
In relation to our sleep, worrying doesn’t just stop us from getting to sleep but can even stop us from staying asleep. We sleep in cycles, or circadian rhythms, that are between 90 minutes to 2 hours long, and, while most people aren’t aware of these cycles, it’s completely natural to wake up briefly before entering the next cycle. We have been programmed this way since prehistoric times as part of a survival mechanism to scan for danger before re-entering a deep sleep. When we are worried before we go to sleep you can bet that you’re more likely to wake up at the end of one of these cycles alert and sometimes anxious.
Worrying doesn’t just affect your mind, it affects your body too
When we worry, we can often get anxious and this can cause a whole host of physical symptoms. Physiologically, when we get anxious our sympathetic nervous system is activated, and this is responsible for our fight or flight response. As a result, we can begin to get sweaty and our heart rate and blood pressure increases – not good if you’re looking to wind down for the night! Our adrenal glands release adrenaline and divert our stomach’s blood vessels away from their normal function – which is why we feel the characteristic butterflies in our stomach!1
Once the fight or flight response has been triggered it is very difficult to switch off again. This happens because as soon as you register the fact that you are feeling anxious, your brain receives a signal that there is some sort of threat and therefore continues to keep stimulating the fight or flight response until the threatening situation has passed.2
Although the fight or flight response is difficult to switch off again it can be possible! You can take steps towards easing feelings of nervousness; here are my top natural remedies to help soothe worries for a better night’s sleep.
1) Cut down on caffeine
You won’t be surprised but caffeine is a big no-no if you want to wind down at night. This isn’t just because caffeine keeps you alert and awake, but also because it is a stimulant that increases our heart rate and can amplify our feelings of anxiety.
Instead, try swapping your coffee for a caffeine-free alternative; this can range from water, fruit juice or herbal teas and also be wary of healthy drinks such as green tea which also contains (albeit a small amount) of caffeine. Chamomile tea is a nice caffeine-free alternative to regular tea (which contains 11mg of caffeine) because it contains chrysin, a flavonoid responsible for its relaxing properties making it the perfect tea to have before bed! And for those coffee-lovers out there try our coffee substitute Bambu which is completely natural and caffeine-free so can be drunk anytime throughout the day.
The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are now widely known and backed up by research. It comes as no surprise that exercising regularly will help to alleviate your worries and anxiety too, it even has a massive impact on our sleep! Exercise works to counteract stress, anxiety, and depression by producing endorphins, which are hormones released from the pituitary gland that help to relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure and euphoria.3 If you are feeling worried throughout the day try to schedule in a short burst of exercise to help to clear your head of worries and soothe anxious feelings.
3) Herbal remedies
Dormeasan doesn't just help with aiding a natural sleep, it can be used to help calm anxiety too! The fresh extracts of valerian root and hops promote a sense of relaxation in the body helping to reduce stress and anxiety. It can be used for as long as needed and doesn’t contain any of the side effects found in regular medication. Now, we don't want you feeling so relaxed that you're sleepy during the day which is why we'd recommend taking between 10-20 drops to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. When it comes to settling down for the night we'd suggest upping this to 30 drops in a little juice around half an hour before you intend on going to bed for best results!
4) Epsom salts and essential oils
Epsom salts are found in natural springs in England and are used primarily for relaxing muscles and loosening stiff joints. It is thought that the water breaks the Epsom salts down into magnesium and sulphate and that these will be absorbed through the skin whilst taking an Epsom salt bath.4
Excess adrenaline, caused by worrying and feeling anxious, is believed to drain the body of magnesium, which is a natural stress reliever. Magnesium is an electrolyte necessary for the production of serotonin, which is a mood-boosting chemical created in the brain.5
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can help to replenish lost magnesium and promote relaxation. Why not try adding in some essential oils like lavender and chamomile which also have a relaxing effect on the sensory system?
5) Breathing exercises
Deep breathing techniques can also help to alleviate the vicious cycle of worrying. When we breathe from the belly a message is sent to the brain encouraging it to relax, and this message is then sent to the rest of the body.6 This then results in more oxygen passing into the lungs and helps to regulate your heart rate and blood pressure.
A positive outlook
Feelings of worry and anxiety are most often caused by our beliefs and how we think about a situation rather than the situation itself. Learning to respond to situations in a positive and relaxed way will help to reduce the amount of stress and worry you feel. Finding easy ways to soothe your worries will not completely dissolve them; we still have that basic survival instinct hard-wired into our brains so we are bound to feel worried at one point or another, that’s why it is beneficial to have a worry-relief plan in place that works for you!